World's 3rd best, 56 years ago
by Henry Liao for philippinebasketball.ph (09/01/2010)
This astonishing feat came during the 2nd World games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1954 (October 22-November 5) when the Filipinos gained the bronze medal. Only the United States (gold) and host Brazil (silver) fared better than the Philippines.
The games originally were to be held in Sao Paulo
to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of that city.
However, there were problems with the roof of
A dozen countries took part in the tournament. Seven were from the Americas, three from Europe and two from Asia.
Because the Brazilian government did not have diplomatic ties with the governments of the socialist countries of Europe at the time, some of the best teams from that continent (champion Soviet Union, second-placer Hungary and fourth-placer Czechoslovakia) were no-shows.
The best teams from the Americas were present with the exception of Mexico, which had declined an invitation. The top squads from Asia ? the Philippines and Formosa (Taiwan/now known as Chinese-Taipei)) ? were also in attendance.
From Europe, however, the best teams were absent as only France, Israel and Yugoslavia could take part, and they finished third, fifth and sixth, respectively, during the 1953 European Championships (now known as EuroBasket).
Despite employing a second-rate unit, the United States grabbed the World crown with a perfect 9-0 record, blasting host Brazil 62-41 in the gold-medal game. The Americans? lowest winning margin was five points, a 64-59 (30-26) decision over sixth-place Uruguay in the eight-team final round. Only once in the tournament did the U.S. trail at halftime (24-26) and it occurred during a 73-49 triumph over 12th- and last-placer Peru.
For two reasons, the Americans were unable to send their best amateur team. Firstly, the date of the tournament makes it practically impossible to call on players from the colleges and universities. It was aggravated by the fact that the tournament largely had been held south of the Equator, thus making the choice of the dates unsuitable for teams coming from the north.
Secondly, the date of the U.S. Olympic Basketball Committee that chose its Olympic team at the time and it had the luxury of utilizing players from all sections of the country, including the top colleges and universities.
In contrast, the U.S. teams to the World Basketball Championship were selected by the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union, which could tap only players from the industrial or commercial leagues, the minor colleges and the American Armed Forces.
The U.S. thus did not send its first-rate team during the early years of the World competitions.
In 1954, Brazil took the silver medal with an 8-1 record, including a pair of victories over the Philippines (99-63 in the preliminary round and 57-41 in the eight team final round).
The Filipinos wound up with a 6-3 overall mark (including 1-1 in the preliminaries) and officially clinched the bronze with a 66-60 win over France in the team?s penultimate game in the final round, where all eight teams played against each other on a round-robin basis without any playoffs.
The Philippines is one of only 13 countries to secure a medal (gold, silver or bronze) in World Basketball Championship history.
Carlos (The Great Difference) Loyzaga tallied 20 points against the fourth-ranked French. In the finale against sixth-place Uruguay, the 6-3 Loyzaga (who now resides in Australia and turned 80 last August 29), exploded for 33 markers as he powered the Filipinos to a 67-63 success despite the absence of head coach Herminio Silva, who called in sick that day.
Loyzaga was the tournament?s third-leading scorer behind Uruguay?s Oscar Moglia (18.6 ppg) and Canada?s Carl Ridd (18.2 ppg) with a 16.4-point clip in nine assignments. He also was named to the five-man All-Tournament Team.
Captain Lauro (The Fox) Mumar averaged 9.3 ppg and Mariano Tolentino chalked up 9.1 ppg.
Other members of the RP team were Antonio Genato, Napoleon Flores, Francisco Rabat, Florentino Bautista Jr., Rafael Barretto, Benjamin Francisco, Ponciano Saldaña, Bayani Amador and Ramon Manulat.